Bananas, apples and pears provide you with energy, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Low in fat, these fruits can serve as part of your everyday meals or as healthy snacks in a well-balanced nutrition plan. Seek the advice of your health care provider or a dietitian with concerns about your fruit consumption and the benefits it offers your diet.
Bananas, apples and pears are rich in energy-dense carbohydrates, primarily in the form of sugars. Your body extracts 4 calories of energy for each gram of carbohydrate you consume, and all the cells of your body are able to use carbs as an energy source. The sugars in these fruits not only supply fuel to your cells, but also allow your dietary proteins to perform their other functions rather than being called on as an energy source, as might be the case when sugars in your diet are scarce. Because the bulk of the carbs in bananas, apples and pears exists as sugars rather than starches, these nutrients require little digestion before your body absorbs them, allowing them to fuel your tissues rapidly.
Dietary fiber, although your body does not digest it, improves your gastrointestinal health by bulking up your waste products as they move through your intestines. The added bulk helps keep your bowel movements regular, minimizing your risk for constipation and hemorrhoids. Dietary fiber might also help regulate your blood cholesterol and sugar levels. The recommended fiber intake for adults is 21 to 25 grams per day for women, and 30 to 38 grams per day for men. Bananas, apples and pears contribute significant fiber to your diet, with a medium-size piece of fruit providing 3.5, 5 and 7 grams respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database.
Bananas, apples and pears supply your diet with a variety of vitamins. Bananas are a rich source of vitamin B-6, with 0.433 milligrams in 1 medium banana. Vitamin B-6 is important in metabolizing protein and carbs, as well as in synthesizing red blood cells. The Institute of Medicine lists the recommended intake for B-6 as between 1.5 and 1.7 milligrams for adults, meaning bananas deliver over 30 percent of the RDI. Bananas, apples and pears provide you with modest amounts of vitamin C, essential for wound healing, immune health, and strong veins and arteries. Vitamin C also plays a role as an antioxidant in your cells, helping to protect you against environmental stress and injury. One medium banana contains 10.3 milligrams of vitamin C, a medium apple contains 8.4 milligrams of vitamin C and 1 medium pear contains 7.5 milligrams. This is more than 10 percent of the recommended intake of 75 milligrams of vitamin C from all of these fruits for women, and almost 10 percent of the recommended intake of 90 milligrams for men.
Minerals are elemental molecules your body needs for good health. Bananas contain high levels of potassium, with 422 milligrams or almost 10 percent of the recommended intake of 4,700 milligrams. Potassium is critical for proper signaling of both your nerve cells and muscle fibers. The potassium in bananas also helps maintain your blood pressure and fluid balance. Apples and pears contribute lesser, but still significant, amounts of this mineral to your diet. Additionally, bananas, apples and pears add small quantities of magnesium to help you meet your daily needs.
- University of Illinois McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Apples, Raw, With Skin
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pears, Raw
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Dietary Fiber
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes